When I was a little girl…I wanted to grow up and play professional baseball.
Every summer night, I'd drift off to sleep in my bedroom, my bedside radio tuned to the Royals radio network, so I could listen to the play-by-play of my favorite team…. My dreams would entail me being the first woman to ever play professional ball, and I'd be the SUPERSTAH of the baseball world - with parades, parties and statues in my honor.
George Brett would take notice and perhaps even marry me.
Reality quickly crushed those dreams, as it often does, and instead of playing for the Royals, I spend my summer days and nights supporting them and cheering them on - whether it's attending a game at Kauffman Stadium, or watching them on television as they travel around the country.
Such was the case last Saturday, when they had their annual 5k Charity Run on a beautiful, surprisingly cool morning. Hubby and I laced up and headed to Kauffman Stadium, arriving along side almost 2,000 other participants, with the opportunity of running around the warning track of the stadium, all for a good cause.
Because I'm smack dab in the middle of training for an October half-marathon, my running schedule called for me to run 8 miles on Saturday…which presented a bit of a conundrum, as the 5k is "only" 3.1 miles. Somewhere - somehow - I needed to get an additional 5 miles in…so Hubby and I got a bit creative.
After parking the car, gearing up with our iPods & earbuds, as well as our energy gels, we headed down near the official Start Line, and then quickly got in a 2-mile warm-up before the race. We ran loops around the parking lot several times, which made for an albeit boring run - but it got us both warmed up and ready to go. Here's my Garmin, tracking me:
In hindsight, I may do this before EVERY 5k, as it really loosened things up for me and allowed me to be in "the zone" before the actual 5k ever began.
After finishing up our 2 miles, this left us with 10 minutes before the race, so we quickly made our way over to the corrals by the start line. With Hubby being fast, he hopped in towards the front of the racers, while I slowly made my way back to the "turtles" - otherwise known as the "slow runners." They're my people and I love them.
The gun sounded, and off we went. I really, really liked this course, for the most part…there were few hills, and it was easy to spread out from the other runners. I absolutely HATE courses that have "pinch points" - where they bunch up the runners in a tight spot, creating mass pandemonium and opportunities for injury. Gah.
I did my run/walk intervals and was feeling pretty strong; the only thing that slowed me down was the increasing heat along the course, with zero shade. Running in a parking lot - along asphalt - leaves little room for trees and shade. I got hot. Really hot. Check out the Garmin map of the course:
There was one water stop along the way - at about the halfway point - and I took a tiny swallow, and then showered myself with the rest of the water….That cool, refreshing shower was just what I needed to find my second wind for the last half of the run.
Towards the end of the race, they funneled us into a VERY steep tunnel (think 35-degree angle) that led down and inside to the warning track. It was pretty awesome to run around the field and "pretend" that I was actually a professional ballplayer - rather than a wanna-be runner plodding along on a charity run.
Here's Hubby as he runs around the track:
The track was surprisingly slippery…I had to really watch my step, so I didn't do a face plant on the field. That would have been rather embarrassing - and would have probably been caught on camera, knowing my luck.
Of course, upon exiting the field, we now had to run UP that very steep tunnel. Joy. Hills have been my nemesis lately, and after getting some awesome training advice from my running coach, Jessica, I was determined to RUN up that sucker and not have to walk it, like most everyone else around me at this point. Imagine my delight when I DID it! I made it to the top running - where I preceded to do a bit of the Rocky victory dance, complete with arms in the air.
My celebration was short-lived, though, as I had absolutely no oxygen for about a minute or two, and I still had half a mile or so of the race to complete. Sucking in whatever air I could find, I took a few steps…when something happened that was so funny, so coincidental, and yet so motivating, that it was one of those 'weird' moments that live forever.
As I said, I was pretty spent. That hill had taken it out of me. I figured I would just walk to the finish, and that would be good enough. And suddenly…on my iPod...came the song, "Royals" - by Lorde. True, it's not about the Kansas City Royals - but she has said in an interview that she was inspired to write the song after seeing George Brett in a photograph, wearing his Royals uniform. So - it's "our" song, so to speak.
Here I am, just coming out of Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals play…and I hear this song. How bizarre was THAT??!! How could I NOT start running again? Walking? Ha. Walking be damned. I was going to finish this race RUNNING at full speed, while I listened to the soulful strains of "Royals" in my ear, giving me the motivation and the "umph" that I needed to finish.
I finished 21/62 in my age division for women. Not bad, huh?
Hubby finished 3rd in his age division. Gah. I hate him. He got a nice letter and some movie tickets for his prize:
Check out the medals, which were pretty awesome:
Normally, at this point in the race, you get to head to your car - or the after party - and celebrate. But not us. We had another 5k (or 3 miles) to run. WE WERE SO EXCITED.
Hubby decided to re-run the 5k course again, but I just decided to do loop after loop after loop in the parking lot. Check out my Garmin:
My pace was slower than a snail's, because at this point, the tendonitis in my left knee was ON FIRE and was SCREAMING at me with every step. It hurt - a lot - but I was determined to get that mileage in…so I sucked it up and hobbled till I got it done. Which may have been rather stupid, but us runners aren't known for our rocket science brains sometimes. We're more known for our stubbornness and refusal to admit when we're injured.
All-in-all, though, a very great day. Would I do the Royals 5k again?
I thought the course was great; the organization was awesome; the bling was pretty good; and the chance to run on the field?